Three Big Takeaways from 2023 Games Programming
Now that the dust has settled on the 2023 CrossFit Games, we can look at the test in its entirety and make some critical observations about how balanced or biased it was.
The details: The first thing we looked at was the different modalities programmed across the weekend.
The monostructural (aka cardio) movements were programmed seven times, with running appearing twice. Gymnastics (aka bodyweight) movements were tested the most this year, with 12 different movements appearing. Weightlifting (aka loaded implements), appeared 11 times over the weekend.
Below is a breakdown of each of the individual movements:
- Mountain bike
- Run (400-meter repeats in “Helena”)
- Run (Cross-Country 5K)
- Heavy rope double under
- Echo Bike
- Handstand walking
- Freestanding handstand push-ups
- Seated legless rope climbs
- Bar muscle ups
- Box jump-overs
- Burpee box jump-overs
- Ring muscle ups
- Parallel bar traverse
- Pig flip
- Sled push
- Kettlebell clean and jerk
- Sandbag squats
- Dumbbell snatches
- Barbell snatch
- Barbell clean and jerk
- Sled pull
- Barbell Thruster
The modalities are relatively balanced when breaking down the 12 tests into their individual movements.
- Beyond the movements, time domains stayed true to the fabric of classic CrossFit with the bulk of tests sitting in the 10- to 20-minute range and the second most popular range being 5- to 10-minutes. There was a longer test (40-minute mountain bike), along with specialist tests with the cross-country 5k run, Olympic total and inverted medley.
Three Big Takeaways
1. Strongman and odd objects aren’t going anywhere
One of the widely discussed topics for this year’s CrossFit Games was the lack of barbell movements programmed at the CrossFIt Games. When we look at the season in its entirety, it’s clear that the individuals who arrived in Madison had been thoroughly tested in barbell movements between the Open, Quarterfinals and Semifinals.
Logistic restrictions prevent the CrossFit Games team from testing odd objects in earlier stages of the season, so it should be expected that they will be reserved for the last stage of the big picture in finding the Fittest on Earth.
- Six of the 12 tests included non-barbell loaded implements compared to the two tests that did include barbells.
- Sleds and sandbags appeared in four tests, being used for a variety of functions.
2. Gymnastics pulling reign supreme
The extent of gymnastics upper body pressing was limited to the “Inverted Medley,” which had 16 free-standing handstand push-ups. Beyond this, you can count the burpees and ring muscle ups from later tests in the weekend.
- Six movements programmed hanging and/or pulling from a bar, rings or rope.
- 237 kipping reps were programmed across 12 tests between toes-to-bar, chest-to-bar, pull-overs, bar muscle ups and ring muscle ups
- Saturday was the only day that did not include hanging and pulling from an object
3. The “out-and-back” test format is a staple
In order for the sport to grow, it needs to be spectator-friendly.
Using the floor/field layout to accomplish this is nothing new at the CrossFit Games and having athletes work down and back helps identify who’s in the lead, while also spreading the test across the entire floor/field for spectators at the competition. Looking at it from a programming perspective, it’s definitely something athletes and coaches can take advantage of heading into Semifinals and the Games each season with their preparation.
- 25 percent of the programmed tests featured this format (Pig Chipper, Inverted Medley and Intervals)
The bottom line: The programming at the 2023 CrossFit Games was balanced across modalities while testing across broad time domains. It’s clear that testing power, strength and stamina through the use of loaded implements is shifting to favor non-barbell implements at the Games level of programming. Gymnastics pulling was heavily biased over pressing this year and there are trends in test formats with the out-and-back style appearing in 25 percent of the tests.